Yankees recall Amaury Sanit, send down Ramiro Pena, DFA Jess Todd

Update (6:08pm): Via Brian Costello and Mark Feinsand, Ramiro Pena was optioned to Triple-A and Jess Todd was designated for assignment. We hardly knew ye, Jess. Pena can’t be recalled for ten days, dems the rules, so the Yankees will either have a three-man bench for the next week and a half or they’re going to call up Kevin Russo (who would have to be re-added to the 40-man roster) or Brandon Laird sometime soon. I’m guessing it’s the former.

Original Post (4:30pm): Via Joel Sherman and Donnie Collins, the Yankees are calling Amaury Sanit up from Triple-A Scranton to reinforce a taxed bullpen. Both 25-man and 40-man rosters moves will be required to accommodate Sanit, though both could by accomplished by designating Buddy Carlyle for assignment. They could always option someone and slide Phil Hughes to the 60-day disabled list as well.

Sanit, 31, is pretty terrible. His 24-6 K/BB in 16.1 IP is very nice, but he’s extremely hittable (10.4 H/9 over the last two years) and works with fringy stuff. Sanit did make a few spot starts in the minors this year and is probably good for 60 pitches if needed, but his call up is almost assuredly a temporary measure. Don’t be surprised if they run him into the ground if there’s a blowout tonight, then cut him tomorrow and replace him with someone else.

Chavez’s foot not broken, but he’s still out 2-3 weeks

Via Dan Barbarisi, Eric Chavez‘s injured foot isn’t fractured, he just has a really deep bone bruise. The fracture doctors saw in the x-ray was an old fracture from when Chavez was a kid; apparently he had a condition in which he was born with fractures in both feet and had to wear casts as a child. It sounds weird but it happens, I was born with bone spurs in both my ankles for no apparent reason. I didn’t have to wear casts though. Anyway, no fracture is good news, though Chavez is still 2-3 weeks away from rejoining the team,

Today in contract non-updates

(AP Photo)

As the 2011 season marches along, there’s one gigantic elephant in the room that everyone’s trying to forget about for the time being: CC Sabathia‘s opt-out clause. The Yankees’ ace can skip out on the final four years and $90-something million dollars left on his contract after the season and hit the free agent market in search of greener pastures. Sabathia will be the best freely available pitcher by a mile, and the Yankees desperately need him to stick around.

Brian Cashman said yesterday that the team will not discuss a new contract with Sabathia during the season despite some obvious reasons why they probably should. This is not news though. The Yankees have a long-standing policy of not talking contracts until the current one expires, regardless of the player’s status or importance to the team. In fairness, Cashman also stuck to the rule three years ago, when his contract expired and he didn’t pursue some kind of extension beforehand. Barring a complete catastrophe, Sabathia will opt out because it’s the smartest move he could possible make.

On the open market, CC is going to have a lot of leverage against the Yankees, and I mean a lot. An unprecedented amount, even. But the Bombers won’t be completely handcuffed because only a limited number of teams can afford to give Sabathia the monster contract he’ll be seeking, and at the end of the day absolutely no one can offer him more than New York. Sabathia has also said “I’m not going anywhere” while noting that he lives in the area year-round and that his kids go to school here. That’s just a clever way of not saying he won’t use the opt out though. So if/when he does bail on the rest of his contract, CC’s choices will be a) come back to the Yankees on a new deal that will pay him handsomely, or b) take less money elsewhere and uproot his family for the second time in three or so years. And be hated by Yankees fans for basically the rest of eternity.

(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

In other contract non-news, Hal Steinbrenner refused to commit to Cashman beyond this season, simply saying that the higher-ups will base the decision on more than just the team’s performance this year. Cashman responded by saying nothing, almost literally: “Nothing to respond to.” His latest three-year contract is up, and although he was more candid than expected this past winter, he and the Steinbrenners still have a strong working relationship.

The Sabathia opt out situation is sure to be messy, but I think Cashman’s will be messier. I figure CC will return after using Cliff Lee’s contract with Philadelphia (six years, $150M) as a starting point in negotiations (he’s got a much longer track record and will still be younger this winter than Lee was this past offseason). Maybe he’ll make all our hopes and dreams come true and decide not to use the opt out, but I would be stunned if that happened. Cashman has some leverage over ownership given the way they went over his head for Rafael Soriano and with Derek Jeter‘s contract, plus the fact that there’s no ready-made, in-house replacement available. These decisions won’t have to made for a few months, but ever so often reminders like this will pop up.

Filing Some Complaints

Games like last night’s happen throughout the course of a 162-game season, but that doesn’t make them any less frustrating. The Yankees are still in first place and (more importantly) still have the second best run differential (+39) in the league. It hasn’t been pretty over the last few weeks, so let’s break out the old complaint box…

(AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

.208/.330/.299

That’s what the Yankees are hitting with men in scoring position over the last two weeks or so, since the second game of the Detroit series*. I usually don’t put an overwhelming amount of stock in performances with RISP since it’s generally a small sampling of plate appearances (just 90 over that time, which is nothing in context of the entire team), but that doesn’t mean the Yankees’ failures in those spots don’t drive me insane. Last night was the epitome of RISPFAIL, as they went just 2-for-16 with men on second and/or third and stranded 15 runners in 11 innings. Just awful.

A-Rod‘s Slump

Popup-Rod. (AP Photo/Matt Strasen)

The newer, slimmed down version of Alex Rodriguez was a monster at the outset of the season, hitting .385/.500/.821 with four homers in his first 13 games before missing one game and part of another with a stiff back/oblique. He just hasn’t been the same since, hitting .194/.260/.269 in his 17 games back. The grand slam in his first game back against the Orioles seems like a distance memory. It’s clear that Alex’s timing is off at the plate; he’s fouling off pitches he should crush and completely whiffing on others he should at least hit hard somewhere.

Other slumps of note: Robinson Cano (six for his last 30), Russell Martin (six for his last 40), and the year-long ugliness of Jorge Posada (.162/.273/.352) and Nick Swisher (.217/.336/.296).

David RoBBertson

I had some fun with David Robertson‘s knack for pitching out of other people’s messes yesterday, but you know what? The guy has a serious walk problem. He’s always been a little wild, sure, but this year he’s unintentionally walked nine men in 14 innings (5.79 uIBB/9), and that includes eight walks in his last 5.2 IP. Robertson’s walked at least one batter in his last six appearances after walking just two in his first ten games. Is it possible that warming up practically every game in April is taking a toll on his arm now? He’s never been known as a control freak, but the sudden spike in free pass rate is a nice piece of anecdotal evidence. That leads me to this…

Innings Roles

I hate ‘em. Mariano Rivera in the ninth? Perfectly fine with me, no issue there whatsoever. $35M setup man in the eighth? Fine, I can live with that. But having a designated seventh inning guy? Now we’re really pushing the envelope of common sense. There needs to be more flexibility with Joba Chamberlain, David Robertson, and even Boone Logan in those spots, if for no other reason than to avoid wearing one or all of them out given all these close games the Yankees have been playing.

D'oh. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Fundamentals

How many rundowns have we seen the Yankees botch this season, especially when pitchers are involved? Whatever the number is, it’s too many. Rundowns have to be viewed as guaranteed outs, and they’ve not only failed to convert a number of them, but they’ve often ended up costing the team runs. We’ve also seen instances of pitchers forgetting (or being too lazy) to cover first base, or just muff balls grounded to their area. Did they just skip PFP in camp because four-fifths of a rotation is made up of veteran guys? Whatever it is, the sloppy play needs to be cleaned up.

* * *

These are just a few of the more … annoying aspects of the team right now, but there’s certainly several others. Those include the heavy use of the sacrifice bunt, Buddy Carlyle’s presence on the roster, Logan’s general inability to get out lefties, Cano’s hackiness, so on and so forth.

* Cherry-picking at its finest.

The RAB Radio Show: May 12, 2011

Last night was not a game we want to relive, but hey, we’ve got a show about the Yankees. It’s tough to avoid topics like this. Somehow, we find a way to end on a high note.

Also, tune in tomorrow, as we’ll be talking Sox with Marc Normandin of Baseball Prospectus and Red Sox Beacon.

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Intro music: “Die Hard” courtesy of reader Alex Kresovich. Thanks to Tyler Wilkinson for the graphic.